In this age of omnipresent internet and cultural over-saturation, the No Wave movement has almost more utility now than it did as an underground art and music scene in the early 1980s. Avant-garde electronic, minimalist synth, post-punk, industrial, jazz punk artists are forced to operate in disparate and dark places. Even in obscurity, or perhaps by virtue of it, they confront our modern practice.
"By defying the idea of commercial success with repetition and abrasion," says Electric Voice Records founder Matt Samways, "artists can challenge the content and structure of the contemporary mainstream." It was in this vein that Samways created Electric Voice Records in 2009 (joined this year by Brett Wagg, Darcy Spidle, James Wing and Courtney Rafuse), to connect musicians who subvert not only typical concepts but standard musical time. On Friday at The Khyber, the Halifax-based label releases a double-LP compilation of associated artists who deliberately push against what we've come to expect from popular music.
In support of the compilation release, Samways has some seriously gnarly things lined up, all a part of the implicit international project to which the label belongs. Montreal pop-80s duo Chevalier Avant Garde, featured on the compilation, are joined by Halifax's Organ Music (Jesse Mitchell and Magnus von Tiesenhausen), DJ Courtney Rafuse, Echolalia and Halifax's Catbag (Dave Ewenson, Mitchell Wiebe and Craig Leonard), also releasing its first LP, Bunker Junker.
Amid visual projections, Samways says the Turret Room will be "an extrasensory experience by combining all audio-visual elements into something full and tangible." "We are not limited," says Samways, who has included French, Spanish and German artists on the compilation. "I combine different aspects of music I like and try to present them in an innovative sequence." His own sound project, Echolalia, is "a synthesis conducted by true contradiction, to create a polarizing idea of relaxation and dystopia."
The ideas of dystopia and dichotomy are important features of the underground, perhaps some of the consistencies that Samways identifies on the compilation, which also undertones Catbag's LP, coming out on Electric Voice. Side A was recorded at the CFS-Debert military bunker and Side B at Halifax's Echo Chamber Audio with vibraphonist Marty Vibes. Influenced by various forces, the album is dynamic in sonic and visual appearance.
"We call it 'industrial junk,'" says Dave Ewenson, "with some inspiration from space." The album picked up vibes from the Cold War paranoia of Diefenbaker's nightmares. "The bunker had a real mood and sound to it. It's concrete, it's cold---the recording reflected that feel."
Creating alternate musical realities is a subversive thing, but Samways says the freedom for variation means the Electric Voice comp has "something for everyone." With another compilation and collaborations on the way, Electric Voice Records brings together artists from all over the world who revel in a darkness illuminated by myopic fragments of all shapes and sizes. The Khyber will be a disturbingly original showcase of sonic experimentation, but don't fear it. --Adria Young
Chevalier Avant Garde w/Catbag, Echolalia, Organ Magic, Friday, August 10 at The Khyber, 1588 Barrington Street, $7, 10pm
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